UNC and MUSC collaborate to test diabetes outreach program

August 14, 2014

The North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences (NC TraCS) Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the South Carolina Clinical and Translational Research (SCTR) Institute at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) are partnering to decrease diabetes prevalence and complications in Bamberg County, SC. The Bamberg Diabetes Transitional Care Study will utilize cutting-edge iPad technology to explore the impact and feasibility of different diabetes interventions for patients transitioning from the hospital to home.

Dr. Sam Cykert

Dr. Sam Cykert

UNC’s principal investigator on the project is Samuel Cykert, MD, professor of medicine in the UNC School of Medicine and adjunct professor of health policy and management at the Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in South Carolina, and nearly 15 percent of Bamberg County residents are diagnosed with the disease (a rate more than 1.5 times the national average). The county’s rural nature, which restricts access to medical care, nutrition counseling and self-management training for chronic illness also makes it an ideal intervention setting for this initiative.

MUSC and UNC-Chapel Hill will partner with the Bamberg County Diabetes Coalition, the Regional Medical Center of Orangeburg and Calhoun Counties (RMC) and the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (SC DHHS). Voorhees College has served as the local host for the project. Cykert and MUSC’s principal investigator, Dr. Carolyn Jenkins, both have decades of experience working with communities to improve care and health outcomes.

“This collaborative effort is unique,” Cykert said. “Rather than limiting patients to short clinic visits, we are combining community health workers and technology to address access issues in rural health within the community.”

Both MUSC and UNC-Chapel Hill are home to a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) program. The CTSA program is a consortium of more than 60 academic medical institutions across the country led by NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), to accelerate clinical and translational research from health science to discovery to dissemination to patients and communities. The program seeks to overcome barriers to translation by improving efficiency, training the research workforce and sharing successful research methods.

The three-month research study will investigate which of the following three approaches to diabetes management is most effective: 1) bringing in community health workers to aid high-risk patients in managing their care, 2) follow-up phone calls by nurses to patients or 3) standard physician instructions alone. The overarching goal of the initiative is to establish a cost-effective and best-practice diabetes management model in Bamberg County that could be disseminated nationally. The model ultimately could reduce unnecessary hospital readmissions and improve self-care for this high-risk population.


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Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: David Pesci, director of communications, (919) 962-2600 or dpesci@unc.edu.